Assumptions


We all do it, don’t we? Make snap judgements about situations and people. Assumptions… I guess a part of it comes from fear. Terror of being rejected, of not knowing or appreciating our worth to other people. A single mum, I had been undertaking three full-time courses (now only two), and have been flat-out between studying, managing my health and being present for my girl. I haven’t gone out to dinner or even had a coffee with friends, and have felt a little disconnected. To my amazement, when I bump into my tribe, I am greeted with hugs. They have missed me, as much as I have missed them! You have no idea what an invitation can mean to somebody; that sense of connection. Hell, even meeting to do a grocery shop together! People who value you will understand that mummy needs to bank coin. Food isn’t going to buy itself! They get that you are studying, working, surviving on little sleep or have medical appointments to manage. Don’t assume that because you haven’t been visible, that you aren’t missed or wanted. Don’t assume that somebody that has gone to ground is avoiding you. Life is cyclical. There are times when everything happens all at once, and times when the clock empties itself of commitments.

Somebody backs out of an invite to an event or meal out? Perhaps their finances are fragile, and the focus is on making rent and keeping the lights on. Somebody disappears from social media? Could it be that their world has shattered into a million pieces, and they have been buried deep? All shall be revealed come spring, when they emerge as a new being. When parts of a person wither, shrivel, hollow-out and die, it is an immensely private and deeply painful time. They can’t articulate what all this means, nor what it feels like to themselves, let alone their 900 Facebook friends. Time is a luxury that we aren’t afforded much of in this modern age.

In the olden days, a woman with a new baby would have a time of healing. A person in mourning would have a period of keening. We weren’t accessible 24/7, encouraged to show how positive we were being in the face of it all. We were able to just be, instead of do. I met a single mother I adore in the supermarket the other day, and we hugged and briefly caught up. It was a Saturday night, and she was on her way home from work. She has also gone back to University. “At the end of the year, when my studies are over, I can’t wait to catch up!” she enthused. Oh how I appreciated her words. She is in a contracting season, where her studies, her job and her girls are her entire world. It is a mere season, and she can appreciate that it’s end shall offer growth. I look forward to our catch-up, knowing that it will be worth the wait.

Rotorua, Sulphur, Mini Golf and Flemish Rabbits!


My daughter and I travelled to Auckland airport from Sydney to attend a wedding in Rotorua. It was our first international flight, so we were excited! We left home at 5am, and got to our lodgings after 8pm. Fortunately, I had prepared my spine -full of arthritis, spondylosis, etc- for this epic adventure, and after a hot shower, crawled into bed.

The trip to Rotorua. This van was in front of us for a few hours.

The next day, I needed a good walk, so we went into Rotorua, and had a marvellous time looking in shops (which are markedly different to ours), and talking to the locals. The cost of living is a lot higher here, which was evident in the price of petrol and food. Over half  the population exist on the minimum wage, and rents are high. I worried about the local people, and how they manage.

My friends were married at the Black Swan Boutique Hotel, a stunning place overlooking Lake Rotorua. Black swans glided by as the vows were exchanged, and the grey skies cleared and sunbeams touched our skin. The bride was absolutely stunning, and I loved how we were invited to hold the rings, placing our love and hopes for the couple into them before they were exchanged. The reception was exquisite, as were our attempts at dancing afterward!

My vegetarian meal!

We left the Black Swan at midnight, collapsing into bed, and woke early the next morning for breakfast with everyone. The bride and groom were glowing and ever so happy. It filled me with joy. We decided to head to the Polynesian Baths to partake of a sulphur spa, naturally heated to 40 degrees. I lost track of time as my body relaxed and I floated with my daughter, and it was only when we went to get dressed that we noted the sign stating that you shouldn’t stay in longer than 15 minutes! Oops! We drank lots of water afterward, to avoid dehydration, and I went to have a nap, my pained spine temporarily eased.

 

As I slumbered in our Airbnb, my daughter uncovered what she called a fairyland, Mini Golf NZ, ironically on Fairy Springs Rd. The manager, Fiona MacGregor was an angel, she said, and I just had to go and see for myself. On the way, we stopped at the local shops for a takeaway dinner, and met many homeless youth. The weather had turned nasty, and a bitter wind whipped through their thin clothing. We gave them some of our NZ money, so they could at least get something to eat. This is the hidden face of any country, concealed behind the tourist attractions and natural beauty. The operators rake in the cash, but the poor see barely a cent.

I was already entranced by the music, bubbles and fairy lighting I could see outside of the mini golf centre, but when I went in, I was captivated! Flemish rabbits bounded up to us for cuddles and pats, and were very involved as we worked our way around the course.

There was also a tame dove and a rainbow lorikeet! I was in heaven! Fiona has been here a long while, and has not only raised her own kids, but looked after many others. She is very aware of how the community is struggling, and organizes canned-food drives and Christmas hampers for organizations like Food Bank to distribute. Fiona is a good woman with a huge heart. There was something very special about her and this place. She was here for love, an essence that shimmered like gossamer around this slight woman.

Fiona and her Rainbow lorikeet

We met a lot of  Maori’s, and they expressed concern about lack of  job opportunities, homelessness, housing affordability and much more. I admire the local community organizations, who have set up linked charities to tackle the major issues. One of the major ingredients has to be a sense of hope; that things can turn around. If that is lost, mental illness creeps in, aided by alcohol and drugs. As long as hope and good people like Fiona abound, communities and their whanau shall prevail. The rest of our trip was spent in quiet contemplation and thankfulness that we had seen our friends marry, and that we had met Fiona. If you are ever in Rotorua, go see her!

The gorgeous bride and I

The Train


Some train journeys are pretty standard; you are surrounded by disaffected, tired and bored people. Nobody smiles and greets one another. Exhausted, I boarded a train, eager to get home after a busy day. This journey however, was far from standard. As soon as I hopped on, a young woman noticed my cane and insisted I take her seat. The lady who had been sitting next to her made room for my child. Soon, we were chatting, and she introduced me to her husband and daughter sitting opposite. They had just arrived from Europe, and were excited about being in Sydney. I felt a little ill though, when they explained how expensive everything is here, citing examples! Others on the carriage joined in the conversation, and before long, we were all friends. We were suggesting places to visit, away from the touristy sites in Sydney.

The fellow on my left had just finished his first day on the job as a City Rail employee, and showed us his induction pack. He was gifted an official coffee mug and a USB featuring a little train! He was excited to have this opportunity, and in his mid-fifties, looks forward to remaining in the job for the next fifteen years.

There was magic on this carriage, a spirit so comforting that you could feel it. People were smiling, and helping one another with strollers and trolleys. It has reiterated to me that there is always an opportunity to make someone’s day brighter. Smiling and greeting other humans isn’t dead! It made a huge difference to my day.

Shining Stars


Shining Stars was set up by some local friends, and is living up to its name! For many years, these wonderful people (including nurses), traveled in their spare time to Kings Cross in order to help the homeless, before moving the service locally. The founder of Shining Stars regularly receives donations at her home, and sorting through the clothes and toys, food and other goods is a job in itself! The other day, they posted a heart-rending description of a homeless elderly lady on their Facebook page. The end result was that this dear soul ended up with comforts such as a dressing gown and slippers, toiletries and a walking frame. Somebody even donated a suitcase so she could pack all her treasures to take to the home found for her. Finding household goods for a family fleeing violence, providing meals and outreach services and much more. These Shining Stars do it all. For further information, Shining Stars can be contacted here.